Feast of Lights


176 pages
ISBN 1-894549-39-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings, a former elementary-school teacher-librarian with the
Durham Board of Education, is an educational consultant.


Twelve-year-old Sarah and her parents are trying to deal with the recent
death of Sarah’s little brother, six-year-old Ben. Sarah finds comfort
in familiar traditions and, with Hanukkah approaching, polishes up her
great-grandmother’s menorah in readiness for the lighting of the

Sarah’s father, wrapped up in his own grief, refuses to participate
and her mother is busy with other things. It is left to Sarah to light
the Hanukkah candles and each time she does, magically she is
transported back into a different time in the life of her great-great
grandparents. She meets another Sarah—her namesake—and learns of
another boy who died. Seeing the hardships that her European ancestors
encountered both in the old country and in Canada, and learning how they
coped with adversity, helps Sarah to accept Ben’s death and move on.
Sarah’s parents are shocked out of their lethargy when Sarah is
injured in a sledding accident.

Feast of Lights is divided into eight chapters echoing the eight days
of Hanukkah. In addition to explaining the origin of the festival of
Hanukkah, the author includes background information about the first
Jews who came to Canada, the Holocaust, and even a brief tour of the
Kensington Market area of Toronto. After reading about Sarah and her
heritage young readers may be inspired to research their own family

Although it is suggested that this is a book for young adults, the
story seems more appropriate for younger audiences. Late junior and
early intermediate grade children, especially those who, like Sarah,
have experienced the loss of a loved one will find this gentle story
reassuring. Recommended.


Jaffe, Ellen S., “Feast of Lights,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/21854.